If you’ve ever watched the University of Dayton women finish their pregame warm-ups, you may have noticed one player lagging behind on Blackburn Court.
Lauren Cannatelli often begs the rebounders to feed her the ball for one more shot.
“Whether it’s been with her club team or at a high school practice or even here before a game, I’ve always told her she couldn’t end on a miss,” Scott Cannatelli, her dad and for a long time one of her AAU coaches, said with a smile after the Flyers topped George Washington, 66-55, Sunday afternoon at UD Arena.
“That’s why, when they’re getting ready to start the game she’s still out there asking for another shot.
“It’s just a mental psyche for her.”
It goes back to the mantra he has drummed into his eldest daughter since she first started developing into a basketball player in the second grade.
“I always told her you can make your own luck,” he said. “If you wait for it, it’s typically not going to happen. But the harder you work, the more you stay at something, the more you are going to make your luck happen.”
Cannatelli, the Flyers’ 5-foot-8 junior guard out of Lakota West High School, has long been known as a person who can hit an outside shot. The deeper it is, the better she is.
And like her dad said, that accuracy hasn’t just happened. She’s worked at it.
She said after starting on “a toy rim” in the house when she was a preschooler, she had moved to the hoop on the driveway in the backyard by second grade.
From the start her dad taught her the correct shooting form and they practiced it daily.
She remembered how sometimes rainstorms would wash away the three point line they’d drawn in chalk out there: “We go out and draw it again and I’d start shooting.”
Scott has one indelible memory of her as a fourth grader:
“We had just come back from an AAU tournament at Ohio State. We lost and got in about 10 at night. She got out of the car and as I was taking out the bags and all the stuff, she turned on the floodlights out on the drive and started shooting. We had just driven four hours in the car that day and it was late, but she had that drive to succeed.”
Now that she’s a starter for the Flyers, Cannatelli’s drive is as intense as ever.
On days when she doesn’t shoot well in practice she said she may stay an extra 20 or 30 minutes and put up extra shots “just to get the feel and the repetition.
“Off days I might go in the gym and get 200 or so shots up. And over the summer when we spent six weeks here taking classes, I made 10,000 shots.
“I don’t know how many I took, but my goal was to make 10,000 and I did.”
So does all that translate into making her own luck?
Well, she opened Sunday’s game hitting two three pointers in the first 96 seconds of play. That gave UD a 6-2 lead. She hit another midway through the first quarter to push the Flyers to a 16-5 margin.
Although GW would fight back and take a brief one-point early in the second quarter and then go up by three two minutes into the third quarter, the Flyers regained control, in part, because of another Cannatelli trey and her 5-of-6 free throw shooting.
She finished with four three pointers in six attempts and 17 points overall. Jayla Scaife also had 17 points, guard Jenna Burdette had 16 and JaVonna Layfield added 11 rebounds.
The Flyers, who have now won eight in a row, are 14-4 overall and 7-0 in the Atlantic 10 Conference.
Afterward, UD coach Shauna Green praised Cannatelli, though not so much for her three-point shooting:
“The thing about Lauren I’m most impressed with right now is her overall growth. She’s known as a shooter, but this year she’s doing so much more.
“She’s able to get to the basket. She’s able to defend and handle the ball and hit the pull up. That’s why she’s playing more.”
Green looked down at box score she held in her hand: “Today she played 33 minutes. She’s playing 30-some minutes every game now.
“Last year people went at her defensively, but now she can defend against anybody. There are no holes in her game. And it’s all a credit to her. She worked at it.”
Yet with all the added development, her calling card is still the three-point shot.
Early this month, she broke the women’s three point record at UD – which she already held after making seven treys last year against Davidson – by making 10 of 13 three pointers against Rhode Island. She finished with 34 points that night and the Flyers won 116-58.
She’s had other big three point games — six against Duquesne last year, six against South Florida this season — but three times this year she also went 0 for 3 from long range.
“That happens,” she said, “Some nights you’re hot, Some nights you’re not as hot. You just have to stay confident and have a short memory.
Many of these lessons were drilled into her by her dad, who played his prep ball at Wayne High School.
“He taught me everything I know about shooting,” she said.
After Sunday’s game he talked about those sessions…or most of them.
“I’m not proud of some of the things I did to fire her up early on,” he said. “I wanted to instill a hard work ethic.”
While she was tearful at times, she also became steeled.
“She developed an iron will to just not give up,” he said. “I think it galvanized her. She has real heart.”
He said there was also plenty of love from him, his wife Susan and Lauren’s younger sister Allison.
The formula paid dividends in high school. Her Lakota West team won the state title when she was a senior and she was Ohio’s Division I Player of the Year.
She was recruited by schools like Princeton, Wake Forest, Nebraska, Duquesne, Drexel and Kent State, but Green – then a UD assistant – convinced Flyers head coach Jim Jabir to offer her a scholarship.
Green said that in addition to her being a superb shooter — she now has “the complete green light to shoot whenever she wants,” the coach said — she figured “we could develop her into being more versatile.
“She’s really smart – (One Flyer aide noted Cannatelli has the team’s top GPA while working on a double major of biology and exercise physiology) – she’s a hard worker and she understands the game and what she has to do out there.”
Especially that part about making her own luck.